Berkshire Makes a Bet on Gold Market That Buffett Once Mocked

  •  Berkshire added Barrick Gold to portfolio in second quarter
  •  Shares of Barrick, world’s second-largest gold miner, soared

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. added Barrick Gold Corp. to its portfolio in the second quarter, sending shares of the world’s second-largest miner of the metal surging.

Berkshire took a new position in Barrick, buying 20.9 million shares, or 1.2% of the company’s outstanding stock, with a current market value of $565 million, according to a regulatory filing on Friday. The filing shows moves made by Buffett or his two investing deputies, Todd Combs or Ted Weschler.

In the past, Buffett, the billionaire chairman of Berkshire, cautioned against investing in the metal because it’s not productive like a farm or a company. Now, gold miners are benefiting from surging bullion prices that are boosting profit margins as costs of production have steadied, making them increasingly attractive investments. Large miners including Barrick and Newmont Corp. have been hoping to woo back generalists who fled the sector years ago.

Paulson & Co., run by billionaire hedge-fund manager John Paulson, also added to its holdings in Barrick.

Barrick’s shares rose 7.4% as of 5:32 p.m. in after-hours trading in New York.

Buffett might’ve been averse to gold in the past, but he has bet big on metals before. In 1997, he bought 129.7 million ounces of silver, banking on demand exceeding production and re-use. He bought most of it for less than $6 an ounce and sold it soon after, he said nine years later. “I was the silver king there for a while,” he said at the time.

The jump in gold prices has boosted investors’ willingness to pump billions into the industry, with precious-metals miners raising $2.4 billion in secondary equity offerings during the second quarter. Gold has gotten a boost as Federal Reserve interest-rate cuts and a plunge in real government bond yields lifted demand for the metal, which doesn’t offer interest.

Filings released this month don’t include hedge funds’ current position, which may have changed since the end of the quarter. Money managers who oversee more than $100 million in the U.S. must file a Form 13F within 45 days of each quarter’s end to list those stocks as well as options and convertible bonds. The filings don’t show non-U.S. securities, holdings that aren’t publicly traded, or cash.

Bloomberg – By

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